Assessing the Sustainability of Current and Future Electricity Options for Turkey

  • Burcin Atilgan

Student thesis: Phd


This research has assessed the environmental, economic and social sustainability of electricity generation in Turkey to contribute towards a better understanding of the overall sustainability impacts of the electricity sector and of possible future scenarios. The assessment of environmental sustainability has been carried out using life cycle assessment; capital, annualised and levelised costs have been used for the economic sustainability and various social indicators along the life cycle of the technologies have been estimated for the social assessment. Multi-criteria decision analysis has been carried out to integrate the three dimensions of sustainability for current electricity generation and future scenarios as well as to help with decision-making. The sustainability assessment of current electricity generation considers all the options present in the Turkish electricity mix: coal (lignite, hard coal), gas, hydro (large and small scale reservoir, run-of-river), onshore wind and geothermal. Each technology has been assessed and compared using 20 sustainability indicators, addressing 11 environmental, three economic and six social aspects. The findings suggest that trade-offs are needed, as each technology is better for some sustainability indicators but worse for others. For example, coal has the highest environmental impacts, except for ozone depletion for which gas is the worst option; gas is the cheapest in terms of capital costs but it provides the lowest direct employment and has the highest levelised costs. Geothermal is the best option for six environmental impacts but has the highest capital cost. Large reservoir has the lowest depletion of elements and fossil resources as well as acidification. Moreover, large reservoir is the cheapest option in terms of levelised costs and the best option for worker injuries and fatalities but provides the lowest life cycle employment. The results for the current electricity sector show that electricity generation in Turkey is responsible for around 111 million tonnes of CO2 eq. emissions annually. Total capital costs of the current electricity sector of Turkey are estimated at US$69 billion, with hydropower, coal and gas plants contributing together to 96%. Total annualised costs are equal to US$26 billion per year, of which fuel costs contribute nearly 64%. The levelised costs for the Turkish electricity generation are estimated at 123 US$/MWh. The social assessment results indicate that the electricity sector in Turkey provided 57,000 jobs. A total of 3670 worker injuries and 15 fatalities are also estimated related to the electricity sector annually.A range of future electricity generation scenarios has been developed for the year 2050 considering different mixes, carbon emission targets and generation options, including fossil-fuel technologies with and without carbon capture and storage, nuclear and a range of renewable options. Overall, business-as-usual scenarios are the least sustainable options to meet the country's electricity demand in the future. Despite the fact that these scenarios have the lowest costs, their poor environmental and social performances make them the worst options. Increasing the contribution from renewables and nuclear power translates to a better sustainability performance. The scenario with the highest penetration of these options (C-3) is found to be the most sustainable option in this work. Although the most renewable intensive scenario (C-4) scores as the second best option overall, it performs poorly for the economic categories.The trade-offs between the different sustainability indicators highlighted by the results of this research illustrate that assessments of a range of environmental, economic and social impacts from different electricity technologies and scenarios should be considered when planning sustainability strategies for the electricity sector.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAdisa Azapagic (Supervisor)

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